Male Infertility and Acupuncture

I have a list of the causes of infertility. Seven of the most common reasons why couples are unable to conceive.

  1. Unexplained – 28%;
  2. Male factor – 23%;
  3. Ovulatory dysfunction – 18%;
  4. Tubal damage – 14%;
  5. Endometriosis – 9%;
  6. Coital problems – 5%;
  7. Cervical factor – 3%.

Today I’m going to talk a lot about the male factor, which is a whopping 23% of all infertility cases. When you suspect that you might have problems with your sperm, or you and your partner unable to conceive, and the woman has everything ok, you can do a semen analysis. When you give a semen sample, they’re going to analyze your semen, and these are the things that they’re looking for:

  • measurement of semen volume and pH;
  • microscopy for debris and agglutination;
  • assessment of sperm concentration, motility, and morphology;
  • sperm leukocyte count;
  • search for immature germ cells.

They’re looking for a measurement of the semen volume, the ph of the semen, they’re do looking at the underneath the microscope to see, if there’s any kind of extra things in there, that are not supposed to be in there, leukocytes to see, if there are an infection and immature germ cells.

The World Health Organization has made an list of parameters that all doctors follow. And so this is kind of what they’re basing everything on.

  • Volume – 1.5 ml;
  • Sperm concentration – 15 million spermatozoa/mL;
  • Total sperm number – 39 million spermatozoa/sample;
  • Morphology – 4% normal forms;
  • Vitality – 58% live;
  • Progressive motility – 32%;
  • Total (progressive +nonprogressive motility) – 40%.

They are making sure, they have a volume of at least 1.5 millilitres; the first sperm concentration needs to be 15 million sperm per milliliter and a total sperm number of  39 per sample. They’re looking the morphology, the vitality, and how well the sperm swims.

This is just a quick overview of the sperm morphology, just in case you’re unclear what they mean, when they tell you that you have poor morphology. There is an example of a normal sperm, and then you have the big sperm, the small sperm, sperm with two heads, sperm with two tales.

Here’s a lovely list of the causes of male infertility, is a huge list and some of these are debatable, they haven’t done full studies to find out, if it’s true or not, but it can be anything from a traumatic injury to radiation, environmental toxins, tight underwear, cell phones, poor diet, and even too much alcohol.

So we’re going to talk a little bit of out the Chinese medicine diagnosis of poor sperm quality and why you would have poor sperm quality. So what I love about Chinese medicine is the ability for it to fit all of these random symptoms that show up, like sore lower back, premature ejaculation to swelling and itching in your scrotum, under one umbrella. And we’re able to make a diagnosis in Chinese medicine and treat you, when in Western medicine things are kind of scattered all over the place.

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The first diagnosis that we can make in Chinese medicine is the kidney insufficiency. So this is usually caused by overwork and lots of stress, staying up late, not sleeping regular hours, and just working too much. Some of the symptoms that we have with kidney insufficiency are:

  • premature ejaculation;
  • impotence or inability to sustain an erection;
  • a very high libido;
  • and a high percentage of abnormal sperm;
  • restlessness and heat, so the people seem kind of agitated, or they’re very thirsty, or they just have a lot of heat kind of symptoms.

Next is the kidney yang deficiency so that is displayed by:

  • low libido;
  • again impotence and inability to sustain an erection;
  • poor sperm motility;
  • low sperm count;
  • chilliness and lethargy – this person would usually feel tired and cold.

And the next one is damp heat. So usually  that person have:

  • swelling, heat and discomfort in the genitals;
  • painful urination;
  • and often that has some previous infection like herpes or STDs or just maybe a rash down there.

Damp heat can be caused by a poor diet and overconsumption of alcohol.

Another really common one that people are talking a lot about right now is Qi and blood stasis. So Qi is a vital energy in Chinese medicine, we want to make sure that it is moving very smoothly, and blood stasis is just exactly what it sounds like. So it can actually be felt on the scrotum and seen and is diagnosed through an ultrasound. And there is surgery that you can get to treat it. Another symptom would be an understanding testicles, or a reversal of the vasectomy is something that we can treat to.

So what can acupuncture treat? You have this diagnosis, you’ve given your semen analysis, and we can treat these four things among others, but mostly these four things. Low motility, a poor morphology very common, low sperm count again very common, and anti-sperm antibodies.

There are lots and lots of research to support that Chinese medicine can help with male infertility. This is just one study that they’ve done among many. So this is a controlled study with 32 men, 16 of the men were given ten acupuncture treatments over five weeks, and the results were:

  • increased the number of motile sperm;
  • increased number of sperm with intact tales;
  • and increased percent of viable sperm.

And that was only in five weeks, twice a week. I just like to speak briefly about poor sperm quality, two points I’d like to make. It’s much more easier to treat a man that it is to treat a woman. A woman cycle is a lot more complicated, a lot of different hormones and also have to worry about regulating the period, making sure that the woman is ovulating and pinpointing the ovulation. Another point is that sperm quality changes with age, decreasing fertility just like in women’s. So the older man gets, unfortunately, the lower quality the sperm can become.